The jewelry of the past five decades is often referred to as cocktail jewelry, representing an atmosphere of enormous change and modern development in the cocktail era.
RETRO - 1935 – 1955
During the retro period, jewelry took on a distinctly American Hollywood flair. Large gemstones in bright colors become popular, rose gold replaced platinum, and movie stars became the trendsetters instead of royalty. Think Marilyn Monroe, Casablanca, and Roman Holiday.
ART DECO - 1920 – 1930
The Great Gatsby is a perfect example of the fine, modern elegance of art deco jewelry. Beginning as a modern reaction to the art nouveau style, art deco made decadent use of crisp, symmetrical, geometric forms. Bold in both design and color, there is nothing quite like the jewelry of this time in history.
ART NOUVEAU - 1890 - 1910
The art nouveau style was quickly established as the new decorative style of the twentieth century after it emerged at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, France. Elegant and decorative, art nouveau pieces can be found in later seasons of Downton Abbey on the eve of the First World War.
EDWARDIAN - 1901 – 1910
As the Edwardian period came into prominence, so did the use of platinum and diamonds. The Edwardian period was marked by total femininity – lace, silk, feathers and delicate bows. Diamonds were essential in Edwardian jewelry, and many of these pieces are considered to be among the finest ever made. For inspiration think My Fair Lady, Titanic, and Anne of Green Gables.
THE ARTS AND CRAFTS PERIOD - 1860 – 1890
The arts and crafts movement featured a riot of enameled color, glimmering stones, and themes that came from out of the Far East. Jewelry from this time period is extremely ornamented, emulating highly patterned designs, nature-based themes, Celtic knotted patterns and an abundance of silver.
THE VICTORIAN ERA - 1837 – 1901
This period covers the entire 64 year reign of Queen Victoria of England. Early Victorian jewelry incorporated very delicate designs and elaborate engravnigs often featuring flowers, trees, and birds. As the years went by, these eventually evolved into heavier more conservative designs. Twisted strands of goldwire and manipulation of gold into raised and fluted designs were also popular. For beautiful examples of Victorian jewelry examine pieces in popular films such as Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, The Young Victoria, and Great Expectations.
1500 - 1830
Arrival of Renaissance and Georgian time period brought rise of jewelry use in entire Europe. Necklaces (single or multi strand), earrings (ordinary or with chandeliers), and many other designs were decorated with the images of animals. Intricately designed gemstones became very popular to the point that diamond jewelry became commonly used as a part of evening attire.
1066 - 1485
Medieval jewelry finally become widespread by the help of religion. The most famous designs of that time were hair and cloth jewelry that was worn during religious ceremonies. They were adorned with gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, pearls, emeralds, semi-precious stones and diamonds.
400 - 1000 AD
In European Dark Ages use of jewelry was not common, except among higher nobility and royalty.
500 BC - 400 AD
Ancient Roma preferred seal rings, brooches, amulets and talismans that were infused with the designs of animals and coiling snakes. Most popular gemstones were sapphires, emeralds, pearls, amber, garnets, jet and diamonds.
1400 - 30 BC
Greek jewelry was made in the style of animals and shells and was infused with the amethysts, pearls, chalcedony, cornelian, garnet and emeralds.
2750 - 1200 BC
Ancient Mesopotamia produced wide range of jewelry based on the design of lives, grapes, cones and spirals. Gemstones that they used were agate, lapis, jasper and carnelian.
5000 - 30 BC
Use of copper starts a new era in jewelry production, and secrets of alluvial gold gathering arrives in Egypt around 4000 BC. They quickly start producing glazed steatite beads and countless jewelry designs based on scarab beetles, scrolls, winged birds, tigers, jackals and antelopes. Popular gemstones of that time were carnelian, feldspar, amethyst, chalcedony, lapis lazuli and turquoise.
Around the time of first domesticated animals and invention of wheel, ancient Thracian civilization produced oldest known objects made from gold.
Fossilized shells and ivory beads found in the East Gravettian culture, located in modern Czech Republic.
Beads made from bone and animal teeth found in France.
110,000 - 73,000 BC
Decorative sea shell beads found in the archeological digs in Morocco. They were probably used as amulets.